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The dangers of more older commercial truck drivers on the roads

While employees in some sectors of the economy are finding it difficult to get work, there’s actually a shortage of commercial truck drivers. To meet their needs, trucking companies are turning to older drivers.

In fact, approximately 10 percent of all drivers of commercial vehicles (both trucks and buses) are now at least 65 years old. Some are even working into their 90s. Trucking schools are actually recruiting senior drivers, offering money and good benefits that can help provide financial security for people in their retirement years.

A recent investigation by CBS News looked at how the greater number of older commercial drivers is impacting the number of crashes. In the past three years, almost 20 percent of commercial truck and bus accidents involved drivers who were at least 70 years old.

Just this summer, at least two commercial truck accidents in New York and New Jersey were blamed on drivers in their 70s. One resulted in two fatalities and the other in ten injuries.

The problem, say experts, is that there aren’t age limits for commercial drivers. In fact, under federal law, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate based on age. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration understand that older drivers generally have slower reaction time and less stamina than younger drivers. However, they haven’t implemented additional skills tests for them. The head of one driving school notes that there’s nothing in the FMCSA guidelines regarding age.

Commercial vehicle accidents can cause extremely serious and often fatal injuries simply due to the size and weight of the vehicles involved. However, lack of regulations and the failure of companies to follow the regulations that are in place can put drivers on the road who have no business being there or keep them driving for longer periods than are safe. When someone is injured or killed by a commercial truck or bus driver, there are often multiple individuals and entities that can be held civilly liable to help victims and surviving family members get the compensation they need.

Source: CBS News, “Are older commercial truck drivers causing more danger on nation’s highways?,” Oct. 18, 2016

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